[Film] An (a.k.a. Sweet Bean)

On my flight home from Australia, I had the luck of stumbling across the 2015 film An while browsing the available movies. An tells the story of a Japanese dorayaki seller and few of the people who impact his life. Dorayaki is a confection pairing little pancakes with an, sweet red bean paste. Obviously it was the setting of the dorayaki shop that drew me in, but it was the story that kept me watching, smiling, then later crying unashamedly. Thank goodness the plane’s lights were dimmed! I really had no idea what I was walking into–the only real hints I had were the drama categorization and the short trailer showing Sentaro learning how to make real an from Yoshii Tokue. The movie ended up sharing so much more than that, including such topics as the human spectrum of emotions regarding helping others, the cages others build and that we create on our own, as well as our resilience and ability to start again. As you can tell, this discussion will include a fair amount of spoilers, so if that deters you from watching, please take my suggestion now to try the film and let me know your thoughts.

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Happy 2017!

Happy New Year to everyone!

My Fall 2016 Season Wrap will be up later this week–most of the last episodes aired while we were on our honeymoon so I have lots to catch up on once we return. Then it’ll be another chase to check out the new winter season and let you know which ones I’ll be following. At a cursory glance, the following are on my list to watch:

  • ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka – Intriguing…
  • Akiba’s Trip The Animation – for KWoo…I swear!
  • Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen – Long-awaited sequel
  • Demi-chan wa Kataritai – Sucked in by the promo art
  • ēlDLIVEEnder’s Game look-a-like?
  • Fuuka – Imagining this with Trump as the protagonist
  • Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon – Try everything KyoAni
  • Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 – Sequel
  • Little Witch Academia (TV) – OMG OMG OMG
  • Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-bu – so many bicycle anime these days
  • Piace: Watashi no Italian – Italian food, yum
  • Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen – Sequel
  • Urara Meirochou – Cute girls and fortune telling
  • Yowamushi Pedal: New Generation – Whaaaat? A must sequel for KWoo

Let me know if I’m overlooking a gem you think I’d like!

12 Days of Anime – #12 New Directions for 2017

(hibike! euphonium) drawn by hado maiko
(hibike! euphonium) drawn by hado maiko

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whew, we made it. I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen, but here we are. Thank you for sticking with me. I mulled over what I wanted to discuss for the last day of “12 Days of Anime,” whether I’d pick my favorite from the year (which I actually covered on the first day), or touch on a central theme from 2016. Instead, we’re getting personal and looking at the path Anime B&B will take starting with the new year.

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12 Days of Anime – #11 Fantastic Additions to the Sports Genre

It’s Christmas Eve!!! One more day!!!!!

2016 has truly been a fantastic year for fans of sports anime, as we’ve been gifted several unique additions to the genre, as well as quite a few sequels and staples. The shows discussed here today are the ones that stood out the most to me, and oddly enough all aired this past fall. I also think they would make the perfect recommendations for people who usually avoid sports anime. These anime dodge one of the most undesired aspects of the genre: overly drawn out matches. Opting for performances either given in real time or in snapshots, they move at a much quicker pace without sacrificing attention to the details that matter most to each of them. For those of you wondering, I did try to avoid naming immediate sequels or already decently represented sports (Haikyuu!!, DAYS, Battery, etc.).
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12 Days of Anime – #10 Joys in Parenting

I’ve stated over and over again to my family and friends how I am not a fan of children, and how they are not fans of me. There are some notable exceptions–like my friend’s kid who quietly ate his weight in oysters at my wedding and grinned the entire time, and my cousin’s two adorable ginger children–but the vast majority receive a pass in my book. But! Anime has this strange ability to turn almost everything into something cute, lovable, and almost desirable–including kids.

There are two special shows that aired this past year that toppled my misgivings about children and brought me to laughs and tears almost every episode. I’m speaking of course of Amaama to Inazuma and Udon no Kuni no Kin’iro Kemari, both of which feature a father or father-figure with children. They both also happily use food as a starting platform to their stories. I would gladly spend a year with each of these families if given the opportunity!

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12 Days of Anime – #9 New Inspirations in Social Media

Talking about social media, this season's Yuri!!! on Ice heavily features Instagram <3
Talking about social media, this season’s Yuri!!! on Ice heavily features Instagram ❤

This was originally going to be a compilation of my new inspirations from 2016 across several social media sites, but my list turned into something more of a YouTube sponsor! That isn’t what this is of course, but I’ve tuned into YouTube more than any other medium this past year, with favorites covering everything from fashion, fitness, food, and travel. I’ll only list the channels touching on Japanese culture here, but feel free to suggest any of your own favorite YouTube channels, podcasts, or blogs you think I should check out.

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12 Days of Anime – #8 Huggable Witches and Youkai

One of my preferred types of anime are iyashikei, otherwise known as “healing anime.” Notable favorites include Aria, Mushishi, Kamichu!, and Amaama to Inazuma. The two discussed here aired this past year and share similar environments that overlap a world very much like our own with the spirit world. Instead of treating the otherworldly as something to be completely avoided, they meet it on its own terms and respect the rules, spoken or not.

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12 Days of Anime – #7 Revisiting Tales of Symphonia and Graces F

Just a little sample from our engagement photos 😉

The Tales of franchise is a Japanese role-playing game with a history dating back to 1995. It will soon release its newest title in 2017. I stumbled across the series late in college, but never fully took part in playing until I purchased Tales of Vesperia for the Xbox 360. Vesperia was probably the best place I could have started, with its memorable cast, script, and story. It would be many years before I tried another title, particularly since Vesperia was the only game in the series ported to the 360, my only console for many years.

What brought me back to the franchise was a desire to find more co-op games to play with KWoo. That’s when I remembered that the Tales of games provide battle co-op–while most of the game is single player, battle mode allows up to four. It has been incredibly fun experiencing these stories together over the past year. Sharing in the same story and fighting side-by-side really makes it feel like we’re on this adventure together. We both want to play more Tales games,  and have individually played some Final Fantasy (KWoo prefers 7 and 8, while I like 4 and 6; we both enjoyed 13). If anyone knows of any other Japanese RPGs like these, please let us know!

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12 Days of Anime – #6 Fune wo Amu

First off, I’d like to extend my gratitude to Flower of Anime  Evo for bringing this show to my attention this past fall. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve tried hard this year to cut as many shows as I dare can from my schedule to free up time for other aspects of my life. While this has helped me dodge many series that I know I would’ve found to be a waste of time, it has also raised the chance of me missing out on something I might love. Something like Fune wo Amu.

I vaguely remember reading the synopsis when the season was first announced and being intrigued by the dictionary aspect, but then I somehow forgot about it once new episodes started airing. This is part of why I share my seasonal picks with you all–so you can catch me in my foolishness!

Fune wo Amu was originally a novel by Shion Miura, and follows Majime Mitsuya in his journey to publish a new dictionary titled, “The Great Passage.” This is exactly the type  of animated work I would expect to be aired on Noitamina, a network once known for its larger demographic window. The past several seasons have hacked away at my opinion of their programming with inclusions like Guilty CrownNanana’s Buried Treasure, and Kabaneri. Now with Fune wo Amu on the table, I have renewed faith, tiny though it is.

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12 Days of Anime – #5 Hibike! Euphonium Season 2

Perceptive Kumiko is back with the rest of the Kitauji High School Concert Band for this second season, bringing with her more drama, more heart throb-worthy close-ups, and more musical performances! The sequel starts off exactly where the previous ended with the band having succeeded at regionals and now preparing for the national stage. Note: This 12 Days entry is part review and part promotion of one of my favorite series of the year.

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